Port eyes private investment to help develop facilities

The Port of Cork may seek private sector investment to help it develop new cargo-handling facilities in Ringaskiddy.

Port eyes private investment to help develop facilities

The port authority, refused planning permission in 2008 for a €150m terminal in Ringaskiddy, is preparing to lodge a scaled-down version with An Bord Pleanála in the autumn.

Company chief executive Brendan Keating said the new development will cost less than €100m.

He said the Port of Cork had already held a pre-planning meeting with An Bord Pleanála. The port expects further pre-planning meetings with the board after the completion of a series of public consultation meetings, which commence next week.

Mr Keating said the Port of Cork was recently categorised by the Government as a ‘Tier One Port’ for further investment and is now allowed to seek private sector investment.

Funding, he said, may also be sought from the EU and the European Investment Bank.

When it previously applied for planning permission to upgrade Ringaskiddy, the port had intended to sell off some of its land on the city quays to fund development works.

However, the land earmarked is worth considerably less now. As a result, private sector investment may be required to plug the funding gap.

Denis Healy, the port’s engineering services manager, said it was expected that An Bord Pleanála will make a decision next March.

He said that if approval is granted, work would be undertaken on a phased basis.

It will commence initially on the eastern side of Ringaskiddy harbour to expand services for roll-on, roll-off and load-on, load-off cargo.

The planned project would gradually replace the current handling facilities in Tivoli which will soon be unable to accommodate the larger cargo ships being built.

“It’s most likely that this first phase will be operational by 2018,” Mr Healy said.

The western section of Ringaskiddy harbour would then be developed to consolidate bulk cargo handling facilities, but not for 10 years, at least.

Mr Healy said the plans also involve creating new road access points to the port, enabling heavy goods vehicles to bypass Ringaskiddy village.

An Bord Pleanála refused permission five years ago as it felt the road network in Ringaskiddy couldn’t cope with the increased traffic it would generate.

The board also said that the Jack Lynch Tunnel/Dunkettle Interchange was at capacity and could not cope with any more heavy goods vehicles.

However, the National Roads Authority is now planning to upgrade that major junction.

Mr Keating said he was optimistic the scaled-down plans will get approval because of the time the Port of Cork had taken compiling them. “If we don’t secure planning it could have serious adverse consequences for trading in this region,” he warned.

Key dates

Public consultation meetings:

- Fota Island Golf Clubhouse: Thursday, Apr 11, 4-8pm.

- Carrigaline Court Hotel: Friday, Apr 12, 2-8pm and Saturday, Apr 13, 10am-2pm.

- A second round of consultations will take place in the summer on dates to be announced.

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